I feel my life is at a crossroads. This is a cliché which, at the same time, both simplifies and complicates the predicament in which I currently find myself.
More accurately I feel I am at the lowest branch of a tree. Behind me is all I have ever been, one path which has led me from birth to the age of 36, while in front of me is all I will ever be, my potential paths dividing again and again; innumerable twigs reaching up to the sky; a bewildering array of possibilities with each joint representing a decision which will influence my future direction.
More immediately I have a simple dilemma: continue with my career as it is or take the branch I can see just ahead of me, jutting temptingly off to the side, offering a different set of freedoms.
My current freedoms are largely financial – I have been an accountant since the age of 20 and have, over the last 16 years, built up a certain amount of experience and knowledge so as to command a certain value to my time, professionally. Unfortunately, freedom has its price and the price of this financial freedom is, as often happens, time. My office hours are 9-5:30 but add in the need to drop off my boys at before school childcare in time for breakfast at 7:45 along with the daily commute and my day stretches out to 11.5 hours of non-stop stress. I live my life surfing a wave of panic; always late for something; always letting someone down, constantly in need of a day off but they are so few and far between that I end up filling them with tasks I can’t normally find time to do; flying from errand to errand, as stressed as any other day.
Or there’s The Alternative – freedom of time, to do the school runs and attend my children’s events; to go to the doctor or get groceries delivered; to go for a run or a bike ride or an off-peak swim or even yoga classes. The price of this one is, obviously, money. I would be moving away from the familiar employment I’ve known all my adult life, with the assurance of regular income, to step into the disorienting world of self employment and freelancing. I have some fantastic ideas for ways of making money including blogs (I’ve heard there are ways of making a little money by doing this); cake decorating (I’ll be writing up some examples of my work); writing my own books; maybe even some freelance administration and accountancy but none of this is as reassuring as knowing how much money is going to arrive in my account on which day of the month.
So what do I do? Right now I am desperate to make the change; to hand in my notice and start typing but I know I can’t do that yet and I know that my initial enthusiasm for projects can burn brightly but that doesn’t mean it will burn for long. At the very least I will have to spend some time in transition, establishing myself in other areas before I can let go of the security of my day job. I’ll let you know how that goes.